I sleep for about sixteen hours in a suite at the Pan Pacific Hotel, then wake up and brunch with Kestrel and Wombat, who has taken off his mask. Wombat is a husky blonde guy in his thirties with a kind face - he reminds me of Andy Richter.
"Why'd you take the mask off, Wombat?" I ask while shoveling bacon omelet into my mouth.
"Ah, I just felt stupid walking around here in my costume. Plus, nobody wants to wear the same clothes three days in a row. Besides, you took off your mask."
"Yeah, I'm still kind of pissed about that," I say. Dr. Naghib took off my cowl and goggles during my surgery. "He could have, I don't know, covered my face with a surgical mask or something."
"I wouldn't worry about it," says Kestrel, who isn't wearing his goggles either. "It's not like the real you is an important person or anything."
"You know what I mean," Kestrel says.
Wombat offers his hand across the table. "Well, anyway, my name's Kyle Hansen. I'm from the Bay area. I'm a long-haul trucker, got my own company and everything."
I shake his hand. "So that's how you get around. I was wondering, I thought you had a Wombatjet or something. My name's Connor Mackenzie, I do marketing and brand management stuff. Nice to meet you."
We both look at Kestrel. He takes a bite of melon. "What?" he says. "My name's Kestrel."
"But what's your real name?" Wombat says.
"Kestrel. I don't have a secret identity."
"What's it say on your driver's license?" I ask.
"I don't drive. Have you seen the wings, mate?"
"But if you did," I say.
"Kestrel. It would say Kestrel. That's my name."
"Like Sting?" I say.
Kestrel smiles sourly. "Yes, Marauder. Like Sting."
He's frontin' but I decide not to press him on it. We drink mimosas and eat croissants and talk about the battle with Baron von Blitzkrieg.
Wombat fared pretty well with the Baron's heist squad. He took out a team in the Washington Mutual building by burrowing under the floor and coming up behind them, then disabled another team with tear gas and stun grenades. The rest of the scarlet clad troopers had gathered at the rendezvous point on Fifth, where a mass of cables hung down from the airship, ready to hoist them and their loot up. There were about two dozen men, all armed with rifles and flechette guns.
"I was having a hard time getting near them," Wombat says. "I was taking shelter behind a fountain and lobbing the occasional grenade at them, just trying to keep them busy, when all of a sudden there's this huge pzzzaaaooow and I look and all the bad guys were just flopping around, twitching."
I laugh and tell Wombat about how the Donar fired its electro-probe weapon at me after I had been pushed out of the cargo bay. My glider wings were on, and I was pulling up trying to get back to the blimp when they fired the weapon, striking their landing party cables with a blast of lightning. A powerful electric shock surged through the cables and shocked those poor dumb bastards at the bottom.
Kestrel had been lucky as well in his mission to dismantle the two strands of balloon bombs hanging over the city. He severed the main line from the Donar to the first string of balloon bombs on his first pass, then grabbed the line with one of his freakish bird claws/feet. Under heavy small arms fire from the Baron's troopers in the Donar's cabin, Kestrel pulled the bombs out over the Bay and let them go, hoping that they wouldn't drift back over land.
There were still a dozen balloon bombs left on the second strand. Immediately Kestrel reversed course and headed back, severing the second strand before the Baron could detonate them. This was about the time I was blowing shit up on the airship bridge.
"So when you say 'sever' what does that mean?" I ask. "How did you cut the balloon bomb lines?"
Kestrel jerks a thumb back at the beautiful eagle wings growing out of his back. "With my wings. I have a unique radius and ulna that can form a cutting edge. When I hit something at speed, I destroy it."
"That's bad-ass," I say. "So did anybody get hurt? Any bomb go off?"
"A couple bank tellers got shot before I showed up," Wombat says. "Some old lady had a heart attack during the assault. I checked the news - she died."
Kestrel says, "I deflated all the balloon bombs and dropped them on a gravel barge in the Bay. I imagine the lads in the bomb squad have taken care of them by now. The Baron's ship crash landed in the Bay as well, after blowing up a bit. Apparently they had some spare bombs on board."
"The police took about a dozen of them captive," Wombat says. "And check this out: their hearts are on the left hand side of their bodies."
I look at him. "So what?"
Kestrel sighs. "Wombat, everyone has their heart on the left--"
"I meant on the right hand side!" Wombat says. "The wrong side! They're humans - but not like us."
Hunh. I'm guessing invaders from another dimension, a parallel earth or something. That would account for the weird retro-anachronistic design of the blimp and their weapons. I wonder what their story is?
"And the Baron?" I ask.
Kestrel and Wombat exchange a sheepish glance.
"What? What happened?" I say.
"He got away," Wombat says.
"Oh for fuck's sake. How?"